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District 196 total enrollment down slightly, special education continues to grow
District 196 total enrollment down slightly, special education continues to grow

Enrollment in District 196 schools remains stable this year, but has not been growing as projected, according to the official October enrollment report presented to the School Board Oct. 9.  

Official enrollment counts are taken on the first day of school in October each year. The state uses the October count to determine some of the state funding school districts receive and districts use the numbers to finalize budget and staffing allocations to schools.

Total enrollment in District 196 schools on Oct. 2, 2023 was 28,961 students, which is 86 fewer (0.3%) than the October count last year and 146 fewer (0.5%) than projected last November. 

The largest class in the district this year is grade 11, with 2,410 students, and the smallest is kindergarten, with 1,752 students. The breakdown by level shows that on Oct. 2, 2023, the district had:

  • 11,597 elementary school students (grades K-5), a decrease of 268 students from last year;
  • 6,303 middle school students (grades 6-8), a decrease of 15 students, and
  • 9,216 high school students (grades 9-12), an increase of 26 students from last year.

One area where enrollment continues to grow is in special education. Enrollment of students receiving center-based special education services grew to 1,264 this year, 50 more than last year. In early childhood special education, enrollment increased by more than 20% in one year, from 480 students last year to 581 this year. Students in center-based and early childhood special education programs require more staff and space than the average student. 

Students of color represent approximately 44% of total enrollment in District 196 this year, up 1% from last year and 6% higher than the state average in 2022. Fifty-six percent of students are White, 14% Black, 12% Hispanic, 8% Asian, 9% are two or more races, 0.4% are American Indian, and 0.1% are Pacific Islander. Students who qualify to receive English Learner (EL) services represent approximately 8% of total enrollment in District 196 this year, compared to 9% statewide. 

District 196 enrollment hit an all-time high of 29,223 students in October 2019. In October 2020, the first full school year impacted by the pandemic, enrollment decreased by less than 1%. It rebounded slightly in 2021 and has decreased slightly in each of the last two years.